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A Town Council quiz and fact check from Royal Examiner’s ‘tabloid’ staff satirist



DATELINE ALERT – Front Royal, Virginia: 1/ Space aliens have captured the Town Council and forced the male members to grow hokey beards; 2/ “Trees cause more pollution than automobiles“; 3/ “Plants cause Erosion”; 4/ “What is not due diligence is allowing the creek to grow out of control as it had for over 17 years with no work being done to mitigate flooding and erosion”; 5/ “Over the years, it (the creek bank) hasn’t been maintained and that’s what’s causing the erosion”; 6/ “Marijuana is a gateway drug”.

Question: Which of these statements is NOT true?

Answer: All of them, except the Space Alien one.

TV shot graphic from NBC-affiliate Peacock TV’s stellar series ‘Operation Blue Book’. To paraphrase from another past TV show about the paranormal – ‘The truth is out THERE somewhere, just not here’ with a nod to ‘The X-Files’, Mulder and Scully. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

The first one, that trees cause pollution is a gloriously stupid concept foisted upon the public in 1981 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan. The full quote of his statement was, “Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.”

“Plants cause erosion” is an incredibly dumb statement by someone who should know better – Steven Hicks, the new Town Manager. He did an incredible job in his previous position as Town Manager of Durham, NC, under what it seems were trying conditions. Here, in his defense, he was handed a very bad situation and is trying, we are told, to make things better.

Unfortunately, he may be under the hypnotic thrall of THE Tederick. Yes, THE Tederick, a name that causes bureaucrats to grow hokey beards.

New Front Royal Town Manager Steven Hicks, right, at council meeting staff table with Matt Tederick, who has continued on the Town payroll to ‘help’ with the transition from his town administrative leadership.

THE Tederick, rising out of a primordial LLC swamp to suck at the fabric of governments, much like a three-piece suit Nosferatu. So, Mr. Hicks may have stumbled a bit to please his liege. But incredibly, after landing in a town fresh off of wiping out a healthy stand of trees (again, he didn’t do it), he has applied for Tree City USA status! Ironically, one of the signs proclaiming that Front Royal is a Tree City is in front of the Tederick Trench, formerly known as a portion of the Shenandoah Greenway!

Okay, moving along, the statement that nothing has “been done… for over 17 years to mitigate erosion” – The article by Sonja pretty much disproves that.

Above, beautiful and functional in someone’s eyes(?) – the start of the plan to totally replace existing natural, tree-lined Happy Creek riparian flood buffer with riprap rocks between Prospect and South Streets along a portion of the now ironically named ‘Shenandoah Greenway’. Below, even children understand trees lives matter to a creek and a Tree City USA – wonder why the Town’s elected and appointed officials are grappling with that?

Finally, “marijuana is a gateway drug”. Wrong, wrong, wrong!!!

Fact or tabloid journalism? – “During the opioid discussion, Gillespie put forth the proposition that the Town officially oppose an anticipated State General Assembly initiative to legalize marijuana because, despite decades of past sociological and medical studies indicating otherwise, he said that there was ‘no question marijuana is one of those gateway things’ leading to harder drug use. He pointed to reports that the illegal drug market was now seeing the lacing of marijuana with the super-synthetic opioid Fentanyl as an indicator of his belief on the matter.”

Thus far we are unaware of any request from Mr. Gillespie or the Town’s lengthening battery of taxpayer-funded attorneys to have the above passage corrected in any way.

Marijuana is not a gateway drug. People who have tried marijuana may eventually go on to try harder drugs in search of a stronger high, and experimentation may lead them down a dangerous path toward addiction. However, the science shows overwhelmingly that for most people, marijuana is not a gateway drug.

Many people mistakenly believe that marijuana use precedes, rather than follows the initiation of other illicit drug use. In fact, most drug use begins with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana, making nicotine and alcohol the two most common “gateway” drugs of abuse. Evidence indicates marijuana is usually not the first substance abused before more dangerous illicit drug experimentation.

Gary Gillespie was not questioned by colleagues despite forwarding long-disproven notions about the role of marijuana as a gateway to hard drug abuse. But Front Royal is a ‘sanctuary’ community in some regards, apparently including from known environmental, sociological and public safety factual realities – tho so far only one of those by official resolution. The rest are just a growing political legacy from an end-run on the Town Charter’s mandate against partisan town elections.

A study published in the peer-reviewed “Journal of School Health” has concluded that the theory of a gateway drug is not associated with marijuana, but rather one of the most damaging and socially accepted drugs in the world: alcohol. The findings from this investigation support that alcohol should receive primary attention in abuse prevention programming since the use of other substances could be impacted by delaying or preventing alcohol use. Remember, under-age purchase or use of nicotine or alcohol is a crime.

An alternative “gateway” may just be the trials and tribulations some kids face while growing up. According to Dr. Karen Van Gundy, an associate professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire, regarding juvenile drug use, “Whether marijuana smokers go on to use other illicit drugs depends more on social factors like being exposed to stress and being unemployed, not so much whether they smoked a joint in the eighth grade. Because underage smoking and alcohol use typically precede marijuana use, marijuana is not the most, and is rarely the first, illicit drug used.”

As for Fentanyl, sadly, it is now found everywhere. In Chicago, Fentanyl was found in a vaping device!

As for space aliens – you explain this mess.

“Three-piece suit Nosferatu” (I crack myself up sometimes.)

‘Project Blue Book’ chart of various UFO’s described around nation – Which one came here to help exert mind-control over our male elected officials grooming tendencies? The ‘Seed Pod’ top row, second from left, seems to be a contender.

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Thoughts regarding the decision to change the name of LFCC



The Letter to the Editor from Tenia Smith last week regarding the decision to change the name of Lord Fairfax Community College was an accurate assessment of the way things seems to be in this country these days.

I would add another reason that this decision is a frivolous attempt to amend history to make a segment of our community feel better. What we actually have here shows a complete out-of-historical context ignorance: that’s looking at historical figures and events through the context of the 21st Century, not through the context of the life and times in which these personalities lived and the events took place. Such individuals who view history through our present day vision will never understand the people and events of our past.

Hence, the burning need to revise our history to make it much more palatable.

Some people, even those in the business of education, will never understand the personalities and events of the past, and, in their ignorance, the discussions and decisions illustrate quite well that they aren’t really interested.

In fairness to Lord Fairfax, whose holdings in the 18th Century comprised what is now most of 22 states, much of what he accomplished in his life shaped early America and Virginia that we know and enjoy today. Regarding the decision to rename the school, their focus is on the way the world lived in the 1600s, the 1700s, and a good part of the 1800s. In no way am I condoning nor supporting the institution of slavery; right or wrong, it was an accepted practice in many countries, and still remains a practice in a number of countries in the 21st Century.

If these “educators” and politicians behind the name change refuse to permit the name of Thomas Lord Fairfax to remain intact on the college, then I would strongly recommend that they also not allow the Stars & Stripes to fly over LFCC. After all, and this also cannot be refuted, it was the symbol of a slave nation from 1787 to December 1865.

Arthur Candenquist
Amissville, Virginia

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Response to Tom Howarth’s Letters to the Editor



I will say just one thing to Tom Howarth, who has submitted many Letters to the Editor of the Royal Examiner: “Stop crying wolf!”

When you write so many letters, and so frequently, people (myself, included) just tune you out!

Your letters are too predictably partisan.

Lalit Piplani
Front Royal, Virginia

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Our trust in the voting process will be forever challenged unless we the people take control of our voting rights



In response to Tom Howarth’s letter to the editor on February 17th:

Mr. Howarth, I watched the trial, which by the way was unconstitutional and so full of hate against a man that no longer was in office.

When it came down to calling witnesses or not, the Democrats called a halt to it by acquitting former President Donald J. Trump! Why, Mr. Howarth? Was it because of who the Republicans could call as witnesses?

Mr. Trump’s lawyers did a great job of bringing out the truth. But Democrats didn’t want the real reason to be brought out on this second impeachment trial, which was the reason for everything coming to a halt! For who really was the people causing insurrection and destruction last summer and for the last 4 years?

No doubt in my mind the election wasn’t held right. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, our voting rights were tampered with and changed without going through the electoral process.

I could accept Biden’s win if it was done fair and square, but it wasn’t! And now our trust in the voting process will be forever challenged unless we the people take control of our voting rights.

Tenia Smith
Front Royal, Virginia

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Open Letter to Town and County officials on county’s high death rate per reported COVID cases



Greetings Community Leader,

As the Front Royal Town Council members spend valuable work time in meetings discussing whether business owners should be allowed to require customers to wear masks to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in our community, I am interested in finding out why people in Warren County die from the virus at a rate so much higher than people in most nearby counties. I’m sure this data has concerned you as a community leader as much, if not more, as it has me as a citizen. I am one concerned member of our community while you are a community leader tasked with finding solutions to the problems that plague our whole community. Surely, understanding the high death rate from Coronavirus in Warren County/Front Royal has been a pressing matter on your list of priorities.

Has your research shown that our high death rate is due to a poor health care system in our community? Is it because of the overall poor health of our residents? Is it something else? Please let the citizens of Front Royal and Warren County know what you have learned about why we are dying from COVID-19 more often than our neighbors in eleven nearby counties. The following data for Deaths per 100K people are from the Virginia Department of Health’s website on February 19, 2021:

County Deaths per 100K
Shenandoah 234
Page 171
Warren 100
Rockingham 94
Clarke 89
Culpepper 75
Fairfax 72
Prince William 70
Frederick 55
Fauquier 52
Madison 52
Loudoun 50
Stafford 36
Rappahannock 27

Cases – Coronavirus

Need vaccine? Learn how to get your shot at or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA. Language translation and TTY services available. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ¿Necesita vacunarse?

I look forward to hearing why you think we are doing so poorly and what ideas you have to prevent so many of our fellow citizens from dying of Covid.

Wishing you all good health,

Kelli Hart
Front Royal, Va.

(reprinted by permission of writer)

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What’s really in a name?



Lord Fairfax Community College has decided to change its name because it does not reflect who they are? Really? I thought it was a place of higher learning and opportunities!

I don’t like the name of Fauquier County. I don’t like the name Henry. I don’t like the color green! I don’t like to make mashed potatoes. But I don’t take this to the city council, or the board, or even D.C.!

This all has become so political! What are the bases of all of this? Why not just erase everything!

No one has names: No names on buildings, no names on highways, no names on envelopes, no names on anything? Why not walk around nameless and act like zombies!

We humans can’t seem to focus on the important things, like being kind and caring and making our futures better! Like helping others and looking out for one another. All we seem to be about nowadays is hate, anger, and destruction.

What a sad place the world has become; what a sad place our country has become! The more we seek peace, the more uproar of evil becomes!

Tenia Smith
Front Royal, Virginia

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Sure Representative Ben Cline wants to move past January 6th accountability



Rep. Ben Cline opines that Congressional Democrats and presumably Republicans who voted to impeach and convict Donald Trump were wasting time.

Donald Trump was impeached for his role in instigating the insurrection and attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.  He was acquitted in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 57 to 43.  He got the 43. Try that in baseball.

Mr. Cline is anxious to get on with business and well he should be.

Why did the president urge his followers to go to the Capitol that day?  He made it quite clear that he wanted them to go in support of those Members of Congress who were supporting his claim that the 2020 election had been stolen from him and them.

The story of a stolen election was the Big Lie.  The election was not stolen.  There is no evidence that it was.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader, made that clear after the acquittal of the former President on February 13.

Senator McConnell blamed the former president and “other powerful people” for perpetuating the Big Lie.  Now, who were those “other powerful people?”  Why they were Members of Congress of course who continued to spread the Big Lie.  Who is on the list of Members of Congress who told the people that if they could just find the votes to overturn the certification of the Electoral College votes all would be well?

Rep. Ben Cline is on the list.

Mr. Cline knew full well that the votes were not there to require a reshuffling of the electoral deck.  He knew his encouragement of the insurrectionists would only end in their frustration and anger, the anger that was on display on January 6.

Why did Ben Cline do this?  Because he wanted to provide Trump supporters in the 6th District with an empty gesture proving his fealty to the former president.

Even after he saw the anger that resulted in the death of a police officer and others in the Capitol, Ben Cline marched down to the floor of the House and perpetuated the Big Lie one more time.

It is small wonder that Ben Cline wants to change the subject.

Mr. Cline thinks the effort to hold responsible those who instigated the attack on the Capitol is a waste of time.  He wants people to look away from him.

Tom Howarth
Warren County, Virginia

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